Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently submitted a proposed rule, 15 CSR 30-200.015, that would establish a certification requirement for libraries receiving state funds and institute measures to protect minors from what he calls “non-age-appropriate materials.”
The following I have put in simple terms; you can read the full proposed rule online.
The rule states that the state librarian shall not distribute any funds to any library unless such library certifies in writing each of the following:
- The library has a written publicly-accessible collection development policy that addresses how selections are made in considering age appropriateness for minors, “who accesses any material in any form.”
- No funds received shall be used to purchase or acquire materials in any form that appeal to the prurient interest of any minor. (Prurient – having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters)
- The library has a written publicly-accessible policy allowing any minor’s parent or guardian to determine what material they can have and that no library employee shall grant access to any minor any material not approved by parent or guardian.
- No age-inappropriate materials in any form, shall be displayed in the library in areas designated as containing materials predominantly for minors.
- No event or presentation shall be held at the library without age-appropriate designation shared.
- The library has a written publicly-accessible library materials challenge policy by which any person my dispute or challenge material, events, etc.
Cost is addressed with a $500 cap on public or private cost.
Okay, there are a lot of things that need to addressed. As for your library, part A, C, D, E and F are already taken care of. I will say that our part C is not taken care of at the level specified, but at the level that is right, same with part D. Our circulation policy says this, “Application for a card: Patrons under the age of 16 must obtain a parent’s or legal guardian’s consent…The parent or legal guardian must be present and sign for responsibility of any material checked out from the library.” My staff is not responsible for what your children checkout, and I think that is the way you prefer it. Our parents are doing their job and need no help from us.
Let me say, as I am sure you already know, I am not pleased or in favor of this rule. The funny thing about this rule is that it is going to happen. When rules are proposed there is a 30-day time period from the publication date where anyone may file a statement in support or in opposition, comments must be replied to, their might be some editing, but it just goes forward. Please write or email your comments to Office of Missouri Secretary of State, P.O. Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or firstname.lastname@example.org. November 15th will be the official publication date.
Let me share what I am most concerned about, besides all of it. Part B: no funds received shall be used to purchase or acquire materials in ANY form that appeal to the prurient interest of any minor. Any material implies just that, ANY material in the library. At the least this part needs to be tightened up or all “romance” content will no longer be purchased for anyone, yep, ANYONE, actually even more concerning is who decides what content has or encourages interest in sexual matters.
I have already touched on my issue with part C. Part D, the library is open, areas are designated for specific ages, but children must walk past the new adult bookshelf to enter their area, we don’t have rooms partitioned off with limited access based on age. Lots of little kiddos venture all over our building, do they do it to find age-inappropriate material, nope. It could be for a game of hide and seek, or they have learned that chase is a fun game to play with dad, really anything except for looking for age-inappropriate material.
I will end with a quote from the interview where I first learned about this rule:
“First and foremost, with everything you look at on your ballot you should say, “Will this person increase my opportunity to make my own decisions or will they decide that they know better how to live their life than I do?” If they think they know better how to live their life than you do, vote against them. If you see a ballot issue that’s going to give government more power and take that power away from you, it’s going to cost you money, that’s going to create an environment where you have less opportunity to be successful or where everyone will be less successful, vote against it.” – Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft with Pete Mundo (KCMO Talk Radio) to discuss library funding in Missouri
Sounds oddly like Ashcroft should be opposed to his own rule, this is already costing the public money, and it seems like someone thinks they know better how you should live your life.
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